Book Review: Showdown at Shinagawa

Showdown at Shinagawa: Tales of Filming from Bombay to BrazilShowdown at Shinagawa: Tales of Filming from Bombay to Brazil by Bill Zarchy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There actually was a showdown at Shinagawa, detailed in the first chapter, but many more stories unfold as noted photographer, cinematographer and blogger Bill Zarchy delves into tales of global escapades while shooting documentary footage for corporate clients. At least mostly documentary footage for corporate clients, one of the best accounts describes a doomed sci-fi thriller that was supposed to be his big break. Each chapter tells a different story of shooting on various projects, and they all offer a snapshot of what that particular film was like. He also helpfully offers links to some of the footage, which I think is a great way to deliver an additional punch to a great description.

Zarchy writes in a laconic but engaging style, and doesn’t shy away from poking fun at himself - especially his height in some of the Asian communities - or describing his reactions to touching scenes where he is filming the effect of medical technologies in poor communities. Particularly since some of his stories go back a couple of decades, it’s interesting to hear accounts of global faxing and checking for hair in the camera equipment. If you have ever wondered what a globe-trotting cameraman life looks like Zarchy gives you great insight, and seems like a guy who would probably offer you a few pointers too, if you asked.


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